Monday, March 3, 2008

Haiti: Once-Vibrant Farming Sector in Dire Straits

By Nazaire St. Fort and Jeb Sprague*

Stanley Belizaire (holding microphone) says that Haiti's agronomy students will keep track of the promises made by the agriculture ministry.

Credit:Nazaire St. Fort/IPS

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Mar 4, 2008 (IPS) - Student activists in Haiti are calling for an overhaul of the nation's agriculture policies, which they say have resulted in Haiti importing more than half of its food while local farmers are mired in poverty.

A petition recently submitted to the René Préval government by students of the Agronomy and Veterinary Medicine (FAMV) department at Haiti's State University calls for a programme spanning the country's 10 departments to increase technical and expert assistance, give subsidies to the agriculture and fishing sector, promote egg and chicken-farming projects to ease reliance on Dominican imports, a nationwide campaign to provide agricultural credits to peasants and an incremental raising of tariffs on foreign agricultural products to benefit Haitian farmers.